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J Biol Inorg Chem. 2012 Aug;17(6):975-85. doi: 10.1007/s00775-012-0913-0. Epub 2012 Jun 28.

A novel mechanism of iron-core formation by Pyrococcus furiosus archaeoferritin, a member of an uncharacterized branch of the ferritin-like superfamily.

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Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands.


Storage of iron in a nontoxic and bioavailable form is essential for many forms of life. Three subfamilies of the ferritin-like superfamily, namely, ferritin, bacterioferritin, and Dps (DNA-binding proteins from starved cells), are able to store iron. Although the function of these iron-storage proteins is constitutive to many organisms to sustain life, the genome of some organisms appears not to encode any of these proteins. In an attempt to identify new iron-storage systems, we have found and characterized a new member of the ferritin-like superfamily of proteins, which unlike the multimeric storage system of ferritin, bacterioferritin, and Dps is monomeric in the absence of iron. Monomers catalyze oxidation of Fe(II) and they store the Fe(III) product as they assemble to form structures comparable to those of 24-meric ferritin. We propose that this mechanism is an alternative method of iron storage by the ferritin-like superfamily of proteins in organisms that lack the regular preassociated 24-meric/12-meric ferritins.

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